For any of you who have a love of Star Trek, I’m assuming you’ve seen, or at least know of Star Trek: The Next Generation. One of the main characters is man named Geordie La Forge, a Starfleet engineer who was born blind. Now, this isn’t a problem as this takes place in the 2300’s and the technology is far superior to ours. Mr. La Forge (before getting ocular implants) wore what is called a VISOR (Visual Instrument and Sensory Organ Replacement) that allowed him to see by detecting electromagnetic signals across the EM spectrum (between 1 Hz and 100,000 THz) and used them to send signals to the brain through implants. This seems a little excessive, even for this day in age, but the technology isn’t far off.
This is the eSight 3, A device that, although doesn’t “fix” blindness, allows people who are legally blind to see clearly. It works for about 4/5 people and works best for those who suffer from Macular Degeneration, but it works on a number of other conditions as well.
eSight CEO Dr. Brian Mech wanted to take advantage of the current improvements and successes of VR to help people. The eSight 3 uses high-speed, high-definition cameras to capture what the user is looking at, and displays it on 2 OLED screens in front of the user’s eyes. Using a remote that is connected to the headset, the user is able to zoom in or brighten/darken so that she is given the best sight possible. The headset can also take photos, capturing what the user is seeing. This not only gives people their sight back, but also gives them freedom. They can safely walk around in public without aid so that they don’t have to rely on a guide dog or white cane. It also helps them read so that they won’t need to use braille.
A couple of the drawbacks are that it isn’t waterproof, nor are users able to drive while wearing it, but the stages it’s at now are remarkable.
Sitting at $10,000 a piece, it is most definitely not the most affordable thing out there, but for many of the users, what the eSight 3 does for them is priceless.
We may not be at the point of curing blindness, but this step forward is truly incredible and who can even imagine where we will be in 10 years. And who knows? Maybe we will reaching VISOR technology sooner than 2300.